A newly-married couple from Los Angeles quit their jobs to work on farms and wineries across Europe. Read it from the beginning...

The fake castle in Wales

Posted: May 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Wales | 4 Comments »

I come all the way to Wales, and end up right back in Hollywood.

For context, take a look at this trailer for the upcoming, $26 million feature IRONCLAD:

Not too bad, right? I mean, it has Brian Cox and he’s pretty good. Paul Giamatti, too (but he’s not in the trailer).

But, did you notice the walls? I’ve touched those walls. Y’see, in a land full of castles, the production company decided to make their own. Shooting wrapped back in October of 2009, but the set still stands today, now a sort of local legend — the fake castle of Pencoed. Halbe and I set out yesterday to find it.

Hark! In the distance! What squat residence is this!

We drew closer to find the castle protected by a six-foot security fence. The irony of this did not hit me until just now.

At a break in the fence was a car and a small caravan housing a security guard. It looks like he may have lived there.  We approached, said hello, then he invited us to take a look around. “Be careful, though” he said. “She’s starting to show her age.”

We breached the fortress! The walls were made of thin plastic in the form of stone bricks and painted as such. Everything iron (nails, hinges) looked authentically rusted, but that solid oak door behind me was hollow.

Here I am, puzzling over the existence of electrical cables in 12th century England. You can see neon green painted set pieces in the thatched cottage behind me.

The castle keep. You can see the scaffolding support structure through the window. The actual “stone” walls are that plastic stone stuff stapled to plywood. The weathering effect was pretty impressive. Everything looked authentic until you were about arms-length away from it. Or, if you went around the back…

The support scaffolding. You can also see the trailer of the security guard in the lower-right. The whole thing was pretty tall — maybe four stories high. Walking around inside was neat. If I squinted, and ignored the sound of the motorway over the hill, it did feel a bit like I was in an old castle.

The security guard came in to see what we were doing, and told us bit about the movie. IRON CLAD is about a group of mercenaries King John sent to reclaim Rochester Castle in 1215. When the time came to give the castle to the king, the mercenaries decided to instead keep it for themselves. The king’s forces lay siege, and 800 years later it’s all made into a movie. GRAPHIC SPOILER ALERT: King John wins. Here’s how: After being unable to penetrate the fortress for months, he  forces a bunch of fat hogs to crawl up the sewage pipe that runs beneath one of the walls, locks them in, then sets them on fire. The intense heat created by the burning fat of the pigs brings down the wall, letting the army inside.

I know. Gross.

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4 Comments on “The fake castle in Wales”

  1. 1 Mom/Mindy said at 3:30 pm on May 12th, 2010:

    omg, in all of Wales you landed right near a Hollywood set. Did you tell the security guard you worked in Hollywood? Now you need to check out a REAL Welsh castle. I highly recommend Cardiff Castle.

  2. 2 DonnaAnn said at 4:59 pm on May 12th, 2010:

    But did the have fake whales in their castle moat?

  3. 3 Charlie and Mary Lou said at 5:57 pm on May 12th, 2010:

    You guys sound like you are having too much fun!!! Don’t you ever work? We miss you.

  4. 4 Sarah said at 5:22 am on May 13th, 2010:


    other than the fake castle, it sounds like you guys are having a blast! xo

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